A knock on the his door woke Jeremy early the next day. Now accustomed to the presence of evertorches, he raised the cover off the one in his bedroom and dressed while bathed it’s warm light. He then opened the door to join the others and found Ami coming down the hall towards his room.
“Oh,” she muttered as she spied him. Quickly recovering she added, “I see you figured out how to get dressed all by yourself.”
Jeremy nodded, “I did, those evertorches are pretty amazing.”
Ami cocked her head, a question forming in her eyes. Jeremy paused and waited for the inquisitive apprentice to vocalize her thoughts, but she shook her head lightly and, turning on her heel, returned up the hallway. Jeremy followed in her wake.
He entered the dining area to find Walter and Ama seated around the small table. Breakfast was much as he found it the day previous. Eggs, bacon, toast, and some sort of juice were laid out in invitation. Jeremy and Ami took their seats as Walter grinned at them in welcome. He sipped a steaming brew from an earthen mug, Jeremy assumed it was coffee.
Ama motioned to the two youths to help themselves to food, which both did gratefully. After their plates were full Ama finally spoke.
“Ami, I wanted to you to know the confidence I have leaving you here in my absence. I am certain you will be an excellent healer for Water Gap.”
Ami quickly swallowed the portion of eggs she had just shoveled into her mouth. “Thank you, Ama,” was all she could muster in response.
“And Jeremy, this arrived for you from the council this morning.” Ama picked up a sealed envelope, the wax on the fold impressed with a decorative representation of a river flowing between two mountains. He assumed it must be the official seal of the Water Gap council. He accepted the letter gently from Ama’s hand and prepared to open it when Walter placed his hand on Jeremy’s wrist in warning.
“Ah, not so fast there, Lad. That’s your letter of introduction to Senator Kaitlyn, she won’t accept it if that seal’s broken. Best let Ama hold on to it for you.”
Jeremy nodded and placed it back in Ama’s outstretched hand. She placed it a satchel of some sort and returned to her meal. Breakfast continued in silence for some time, only broken by the sounds of delight emanating from Walter’s corner of the table. With each groan of contentment Ama flashed a brief look annoyance toward the old trader. Walter did it so often Jeremy began to believe he was nudging his friend on purpose. Finally, Ami giggled at the sight and coughed slightly as she raised a napkin to her face.
Ama sighed and pushed back her plate. “Well, Old Fox, if you are quite finished with your entertainment for the morning perhaps we should be off?”
Walter nodded and stood, “That we should, Meddle, that we should. Raleigh is expecting us by second hour and that time is near. He gets a bit jittery when his clients don’t show up on time.”
“Then let us be off.” Ama stood and beckoned her student to come near. The two embraced as Jeremy also rose from the table. “I am sorry to leave you this mess on your first day as healer, Ami”
Ami smiled as she broke the embrace. “It will be one last reminder to remain humble as I begin my journey, Ama. Scrubbing pots is a fine way to prepare myself to sit with the council.”
Ama nodded sagely, but then flashed a tender and brilliant smile. “That it is, never forget your humility. Ami.”
Several minutes later the three companions we heading toward the font gate, where Raleigh had Walter’s goods prepared for travel into the Inner Valleys. Whereas yesterday Jeremy was enamored with the town of Water Gap itself, the prospect of traveling once more focused his attention on what lay outside the walls. He couldn’t believe he hadn’t noticed before, but Water Gap was, indeed, a gap. Tall mountains rose to the East and West, looming over the town like challenging giants. They were separated by what Jeremy assumed was a river which cut the gap North and South. The site of the mountains troubled Jeremy somewhat.
“Yes lad?” He turned his head only slightly, so intent was he on making his scheduled appointment with Raleigh.”
“You were really going to push your carts over those mountains by hand?”
At this Walter did stop and turn toward his young friend. With his now familiar grin adorning his face he said, “Ah, not over lad. Today you’re going to experience one of the fine wonders of The Boulevard!”